Methane in new well

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by KQ2N, Jan 4, 2006.

  1. KQ2N

    KQ2N New Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Utica, NY
    Hi All,

    I have a new drilled well I just finished hooking up for my residential service. The well is in shale and contains sulfur. I hooked up my chlorination system I used on my old dug well and that took care of the sulfur - not a tinge of smell. BUT, I noticed small air bubbles which gives a milky appearance that clears from the bottom up when a glass of water (hot or cold) is drawn. I checked for methane using a plastic soda bottle and match and sure enough a yellow/blue flame is evident confirming presence of methane.

    Now, from what I understand, methane and the chlorine used in my chlorinator combine to make a cancer causing carcinogin. I don't want to eliminate the chlorinator as we object to the sulfur odor that results. I've heard a little about aerator tanks, does anybody have any recommendations, experiences etc... to pass along? Or perhaps any other methods of eliminating the methane? I realize methane by itself is harmless health wise, but with the chlorine, I have a little concern. I'd appreciate any feedback.

    Thanks,

    Gary
  2. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    We use air to remove the Sulphur odor not chlorine. I don't know if this would be any help for your methane problem.

    Maybe someone with experience with methane can tell you what is a better solution to the whole problem.

    bob...
  3. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

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    Location:
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    There are things for getting gas out of water within pressure tanks, but nothing works as good as air stripping. http://www.sfr.cas.psu.edu/water/methane fact sheet.pdf
    The paper at the link above mentions $1500 to $3000 to solve the problem. As an inventive engineer, I would expect to put my own system together for perhaps $700 worth of parts. You might want to get a quote from a local water treatment company for comparison.

    The Penn State paper talks about removing methane from the well. That is probably the easiest if you have a shallow well where a large quantity of water is stored in a large casing. A system for bubbling air through the water would remove most of the methane.

    If you can't remove the methane before the water is pumped, it usually requires two stages of pumping to strip it out. The chlorine would be added after the methane is stripped out. The system would consist of:
    1. A place to spray the water that would be mixed with air to strip out the methane; probably a pipe 6 to 12 inches diameter, 6 to 10 ft high, depending on how much methane must be removed. ($125)
    2. A fan similar to that inside your bathroom exhaust fan to blow air through the column ($50)
    3. A small plastic tank inside where it won't freeze, 50 to 100 gallons, to collect the water and allow your two different pump flows to be accommodated. ($100)
    4. A level switch and probably a relay to control the well pump filling the tank ($50)
    5. A shallow well jet pump to pump from the new tank into your existing system. ($225)
    6. A filter to get rid of the precipitates that might form when you aerate the water ($100 including a cartridge that will last a year)
    6. Miscellaneous stuff ($50)

    Post again or EMail if you are interested in such as system and want more ideas. This is strictly a do-it-yourself project. I'm not trying to sell anything.
  4. KQ2N

    KQ2N New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Utica, NY
    Bob,

    I had seen the website you suggested. Even though I'm sure it works, the system it and you describe seems quite involved. Can I assume most people just live with the methane? Otherwise I would think more "user friendly" systems would be available on the market. I would think both sulfur and methane in a given well were a common occurance from information I've seen. but am surprised on the lack of more readily available information or equipment.


    How about the "air method" for sulfur removal that Speedbump mentions? That way I could either live with the methane, or some of it could actually dissipate at the same time the sulfur is being erradicated.

    One more idea, since I have an 80 gallon "mixing tank" with my chlorination system, is there a possiblilty I could vent that to allow some methane to escape? Perhaps using an air escape valve as seen on hot water heating systems? Addtionally, I don't believe my well cap is vented ( I have to make the trek out there to check to make sure though) as it doesn't have a vent pipe coming out of it. The pitless adapter is 4 feet underground and no vent comes out of it either. Do vented well caps actually work? Before the well was capped, I did put my ear to the casing to listen for any bubbling (the driller gave me the heads up that he believed there was methane present), but none was heard. The static pressure level is 90 ft. down, maybe that's why I couldn't hear anything. Well depth is 170 ft.

    Thanks again,

    Gary
  5. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

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    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    The aeration process described for removing hydrogen sulfide ( http://www.naturalhandyman.com/iip/infwater/infremovingh2s.shtm ) will also remove methane.

    But note that the description includes the statement "A second pressure system is required to pump the water from the storage tank into the distribution system." That is what the extra pump and controls are for.

    The column and blower that I described are to increase the effectiveness of the removal of the dissolved gasses.

    The process described at the site (link above) for removal of hydrogen sulfide with chlorination mentions filters that require backwashing. I am not a fan of the small home filters that require backwashing because they are not as effective as a good cartridge filter. In order to be effective, sand and similar filters in municipal systems and swimming pools use chemicals that cause the particles to agglomerate to large enough size to be collected in the filters. You don't want to mess with that in your home system. You can buy a lot of cartridges for the cost of most of the backwashable filters installed in homes. The secret to success is to put in a large enough filter, because your annual cartridge cost is lower if you put in more cartridge area (mathematics left as an exercise for the reader, or I will give the proof if asked) and there is an optimization process to minimize the combined investment and operating cost.
  6. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    My aeration system removes H2S while under pressure with a special air compressor with a ramped valve plate that injects air into the water stream just before it enters a galvanized tank in the top through a diffuser. The excess air and gas is let out of the tank through an air release valve located on the side of the tank.

    Not all of the air is let out of the tank, as some of the air stays in suspension in the water. I am not sure how the methane would react to the pressure as opposed to the aerator Bob is talking about.

    Our system however does not require another pump and tank to make the system work.

    bob...
  7. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    I'm in PA and have treated methane but you must use more than simple aeration; and/or homemade devices. And sorry BobNH, cartridge filters are nowhere as good as a backwashed or regenerated filter. When treating potable water I suggest people stay with proven and standard types of treatment that the water treatment industry uses.

    You can remove both the H2S and the methane in one piece of equipment that is meant for enclosed spaces and has appropriate exhaustion devices; methane, and H2S if you have enough of it, wants to be vented outside in approved vent systems.

    Gary
    Quality Water Associates
  8. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    "And sorry BobNH, cartridge filters are nowhere as good as a backwashed or regenerated filter. "

    Show me the test data on regenerated filters.

    The Harmsco PolyPleat 1 micron absolute filter has been tested and shown to provide more than 99.9% removal of giardia lamblia cysts and cryptosporidium cysts. It has been approved for use in systems to meet the requirements of the EPA Surface Water Treatment Rule with a conservative 2.5 Log (99.7% removal) filtration credit for removal of giardia, and a 2.0 Log (99% removal) credit for cryptosporidium. http://www.harmsco.com/uploads/pdf/harmsco_polypleat_catalog.pdf

    The only backwashed filters that meet those requirements are large systems that use chemical pretreatment with automated process controls. There was a massive outbreak of crypto in Milwaukee in 1993 when the backwashed municipal filter system failed because of failure of the chemical pretreatment system. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=7818640&dopt=Abstract

    Household backwashed systems don't use such chemical pretreatment and it is impossible for them to reliably remove those pathogens and fine suspended matter without it.

    More than 400,000 people were infected and more than 100 were killed by the Milwaukee crypto infections. http://www.cnn.com/HEALTH/9609/02/nfm/water.quality/

    And you can't reliably kill crypto with cholrine. Those people in Milwaukee died in spite of the fact that the water was chlorinated.

    I know that there is little likelihood of crypto in deep wells, but the test results are a measure of the removal effectiveness of good cartridge filters relative to small granular backwashed filters.

    Again, there is NO backwashed granular filter system of the type sold and installed for small residential use that has ever been shown to meet the effectiveness of quality cartridge filters.

    If you believe the data exists, let's see it.
  9. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

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    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Which Water Treatment Industry?

    "When treating potable water I suggest people stay with proven and standard types of treatment that the water treatment industry uses."

    The part of the water treatment industry that has to demonstrate performance and effectiveness of their filtration systems uses a lot of chemical pretreatment to make their backwashed filters effective. They constantly measure turbidity of the finished water and test to verify the effectiveness of the filters for removal of pathogens and other contaminants. They publish data on the quality of the water they deliver to their customers and send annual reports to their customers as required by law.

    That is not the same as the part of the water treatment industry that furnishes treatment systems for individuals who have no means of verifying the actual performance of the systems in removing suspended solids from their potable water.

    Cartridge systems are widely used in the food, beverage, chemical, and electronics industries, as well as in small water systems, because they are effective and don't depend on process controls and chemical pretreatment to make sure they work. They use cartridge systems because nothing else is as effective in removing the contaminants that will damage their products. The cartridges from reputable suppliers are a commodity that is supported by testing that proves their effectiveness.

    One must distinguish between PARTICULATE FILTERS and other treatment systems used in homes. Ion exchange water softeners work great. Greensand filters will remove some iron and manganese. Activated carbon filters will remove some organic compounds, chlorine, and radon, but there are also cartridge forms of carbon filters that are equally effective. Acid neutralizers will raise the pH to acceptable levels. But a couple of cubic feet of sand in a fiberglass tank will not effectively remove fine particles and small pathogens (1 to 5 microns) without chemical pretreatment.

    There are examples of sand filters that work. Swimming pool filters work because chemicals are added to the pool. Diatomaceous earth filters use a layer of very fine diatomaceous earth on top of the sand to make it effective, but I have never seen one installed as a residential water filter. There are "slow sand filters" that rely on a biological layer growing on the top called a "Schmutzdecke" (literal translation - layer of filth), to make them work.

    One of the problems with INSTALLATIONS of cartridge filters is that people often put in a little 10" filter that they bought at Home Depot and think they are filtering their water. Those filters don't have enough area and they usually don't remove particles consistent with the micron rating on the package.

    I install small engineered water systems where people have to use surface waters (lakes and ponds) to deliver water to the public. When people have spent thousands of dollars on dry holes and are desperate for a solution to serve their residential youth camp or island community, and have to meet the EPA Surface Water Treatment Rule requirements, they call me. I use cartridge filters exclusively. I'm a retired engineer and it is more a hobby than a business, but my customers and state regulators are very happy with the systems that I install.
  10. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    So BobNH, you too sell this stuff...

    As I'm sure you should know, individual homeowners don't do the maintenance they are told to do, or in a timely manner as they should. And yes, we water treatment dealer types disinfect ALL waters where there is any possibility of bacteria and will use Class A UV where there is any potential for crypto or cysts. I use monitored UV in most cases. And I'll suggest you do the same on both counts as opposed to relying totally on a filter that is maintained by the consumer. I have never used any type of sand filter, I do not believe any correctly sized sand filter could be adequately backwashed.

    Undoubtably you have much more experience in treating surface water than I but my: "When treating potable water I suggest people stay with proven and standard types of treatment that the water treatment industry uses."; was directed toward methane treatment suggestions and as to the "industry" part, that means water treatment dealers, not a water company etc..

    BTW, my suppliers have the full Harmsco line availabe for us if we choose to use their filters. And greensand is used for H2S removal also.

    Gary
    Quality Water Associates
  11. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

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    KQ2N - Check Private Messages

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  12. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    I agree with Gary in the potable water issue. I don't hear of any pathogens getting into well water in my neck of the woods. The only thing we treat waterfor is chlorine removal in city water which I try to avoid and hardness, iron and H2S in well water. The last thing I would ever recommend is any kind of cartridge filter for this sort of thing. They not only give a false sense of satisfaction but they turn green and plug up with algae in only a few days in the sunlight here in Florida.

    I agree with BobNh about the 10" filters as I'm sure we all do.

    I have had great success with backwashing water softeners, greensand iron filters and my airpump system for removing H2S without the help of any cartridge filters.

    Now lake water is a whole new area that I am not experienced with. I usually recommend Hydropur (David) who posts a lot on my forum and the tanks.com forum. He lives in Honduras and does a lot of the cistern water systems which use a totally different type of treatment than I am accustomed to.

    bob...
  13. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

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    3,317
    Location:
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    "The last thing I would ever recommend is any kind of cartridge filter for this sort of thing. They not only give a false sense of satisfaction but they turn green and plug up with algae in only a few days in the sunlight here in Florida. "

    Good cartridge filters such as the Harmsco Poly Pleat 1-micron absolute, and some others, have been tested and accepted for use in public water systems because they are proven to be effective. The problem with many filters is that many manufacturers toss out numbers that have no relationship to what they actually remove. I have tested filters with 1 micron and even 0.5 micron labels that allowed 10% of the 5 micron particles to get through the filter.

    And the advertised gallons-per-minute ratings of filters should usually not be used for design of systems. Too many people put in a "5 GPM rated" cartridge filter (a 10" long string wound unit that may be rated at 20 microns) and thing they are doing something.

    When filters are required for biological protection, I ALWAYS include disinfection because they are never perfect, and I disinfect before the filters so that nothing will grow inside them. The Surface Water Treatment Rule requires 99.9% removal/inactivation of Giardia Lamblia (about 5 microns) and 99% removal of cryptosporidiym (about 3 microns). Viruses and coliform bacteria are easily killed by disinfection, and test requirements for coliform bacteria permit NO live bacteria in the treated water.

    One reason that algae grow in filters is that people often use carbon filters to remove disinfection. I had experience with a company that added such filters to improve the taste of municipal water delivered to bubblers in the hallways. After 3-day weekends, little green things would often flush out of the bubblers at first use. If you are going to remove the disinfectant, that is a risk that you take.
  14. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
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    I won't argue that a 1 micron filter won't do the job you say it will for surface water. It probably will. What I am saying; is I would never use one on a well installation. There just isn't anything that dangerous in well water.

    bob...
  15. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

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    1,423
    Location:
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    gas

    I'm not in your fellows league. Don't know much about water treatment, but why can't you collect the gas like air in a column and vent it at the top?
  16. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

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    3,317
    Location:
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    "why can't you collect the gas like air in a column and vent it at the top?"

    You can vent any air or other gas that separates from the water. That is the same method that is used to vent air from circulating systems such as hydronic heating systems.

    Most gasses will dissolve in water to some degree and will reach equilibrium between the gas pressure and the amount dissolved in the water. That is what happens when methane is mixed with water in the aquifer. When the pressure is reduced, some of the gas is released from solution. If the total pressure of air and gas in a tank is greater than atmospheric pressure, the gas/air mixture can be vented.

    The process for removing methane or other gas in single tank systems is to mix the water with air, and vent the resulting mixture of air and methane. Some of the methane is thereby removed. Some of it remains because there is still a partial pressure of methane in the tank, and because there is not enough time to reach equilibrium. Spraying or otherwise mixing the air and water increases the rate of gas exchange and produces a condition nearer equilibrium.

    It is virtually impossible to remove all of a gas from water by any practical or economical method. It is only possible to reduce it to very small, usually insignificant, quantities.
  17. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

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    3,317
    Location:
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    Cookie,

    What is dripping? Is there a hole in the roof over the pump? Can you post a photo? I can't figure out why an old well is dripping.

    Is the well one of those with a hand pump? Sounds like it from your comment about pulling the rod. If it is an old hand pump, you should be able to find someone who does antique things to take it out for free.

    It should be pretty easy to get the pump and rod out. Then you want to cap the well so little thingies don't fall in. If you keep it available it is a feature that you could advertise when you sell the house. I hate to see someone drop old rods and stuff into a well. Someone may come along in 20 years and want to use it.

    If you are buying city water to water your flowers and lawn, you might want to use the water from the well for that. You would need some kind of electric pump.
  18. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

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    1,423
    Location:
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    the answer

    Bob,

    thank you for answering my question...............

    Keith
  19. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    You can vent any air or other gas that separates from the water. That is the same method that is used to vent air from circulating systems such as hydronic heating systems.

    Most gasses will dissolve in water to some degree and will reach equilibrium between the gas pressure and the amount dissolved in the water. That is what happens when methane is mixed with water in the aquifer. When the pressure is reduced, some of the gas is released from solution. If the total pressure of air and gas in a tank is greater than atmospheric pressure, the gas/air mixture can be vented.

    The process for removing methane or other gas in single tank systems is to mix the water with air, and vent the resulting mixture of air and methane. Some of the methane is thereby removed. Some of it remains because there is still a partial pressure of methane in the tank, and because there is not enough time to reach equilibrium. Spraying or otherwise mixing the air and water increases the rate of gas exchange and produces a condition nearer equilibrium.

    How about that, my Sulphur Removal System will work.

    bob...
  20. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Concerning the methane removal. I use an engineered enclosed/sealed atmospheric multiple spray head aeration system with a blower for venting. It removes all gases in the water and then re-pressurizes the water for distribution to the house. Removing and eliminating methane should not be a homegrown type thing. I suggest you know what you're doing before another problem is created that wasn't there to begin with; it doesn't take much methane in a closed space and you have a fairly serious problem.

    Cookie... it sounds as if the ceiling/roof above the well where the access hole is to lift the pipe trough is leaking. The silicone probably has come loose and allowing the water into the room below. Remove the old silicone and replace with new or new caulk. Or cover the hole cover with some plastic etc..

    Wells are decommissioned, meaning filled or otherwise plugged up. It is or can be expensive; they usually use cement.


    Gary
    Quality Water Associates
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